Only a couple of weeks ago there was the excitement of some further expansion of the Virgin Media cable network with various rumours and gossip about it being a FTTH deployment. Virgin Media has now confirmed the roll-out of fibre direct into peoples homes and the potential for Papworth Everard to enjoy Gigabit broadband speeds.
"Virgin Media continues to push the boundaries of broadband, launching the UK’s first superfast service in 2008 and boosting Virgin Media homes yet again with 152Mb broadband launched this year. We know our network is unbeatable and we are excited to bring 1Gb to the people of Papworth as they help us explore a new way of rolling out our network faster and more cost-effectively."Paul Buttery, Virgin Media’s Chief Customer, Networks and Technology Officer
The trial of FTTH in Papworth to 100 households will use RFOG which is radio frequency over glass, essentially combining the advantages of fibre optics with the ability to use existing DOCSIS hardware in the home and at the network end where the TV and broadband is fed into the fibre. Additionally Virgin Media is to experiment with using narrow-trenching, which is simply a 10cm wide trench rather than the traditional 40cm trenches used, which in theory should speed up the amount of road/pavement covered in a day to around 100m a day. This is not to be confused with micro-trenching which uses an even narrower trench, which is really more of a one inch wide slot that a fibre tube is squeezed into.
The Gigabit trial by Virgin Media allows the company to look at whether money it has set aside for network expansion could go further and connect even more homes, and raises difficult questions over the current spending of public money to fund superfast network expansion, i.e. was there ever really true market failure for those in the final third of the UK, or was it just a pause while the big operators weathered the recession.